We want community
leaders
 to design healthier
places for kids.
 

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

  • Our Process

    1 / 10

    We embarked on this work by putting ourselves in a child’s shoes — in order to grow our view, we needed to shrink it down to about 3 foot 6 inches. We created a short video following a three-year-old and his dad as they walked through their neighborhood wearing Go-Pros. This view-by-view comparison not only gave us a unique peek into the experiences of a child, we used it to frame the project and engage others in the work.

    We embarked on this work by putting ourselves in a child’s shoes — in order to grow our view, we needed to shrink it down to about 3 foot 6 inches. We created a short video following a three-year-old and his dad as they walked through their neighborhood wearing Go-Pros. This view-by-view comparison not only gave us a unique peek into the experiences of a child, we used it to frame the project and engage others in the work.

  • Our Process

    2 / 10

    We recruited an incredible group of over 40 nationally-focused, cross-sector experts to serve as advisors to the project. They helped us identify the criteria needed to select both communities and community-based organizations who would eventually serve as local conveners for the project. This insight helped us write a widely-distributed Call for Proposals .

    We recruited an incredible group of over 40 nationally-focused, cross-sector experts to serve as advisors to the project. They helped us identify the criteria needed to select both communities and community-based organizations who would eventually serve as local conveners for the project. This insight helped us write a widely-distributed Call for Proposals .

  • Our Process

    3 / 10

    For a project with a nationwide audience, we needed a unified message and a centralized location to house information and updates. Our team brainstormed and tested project names and taglines, designed the logo, and built a project website. Together, these help tell the story of the Raising Places project.

    For a project with a nationwide audience, we needed a unified message and a centralized location to house information and updates. Our team brainstormed and tested project names and taglines, designed the logo, and built a project website. Together, these help tell the story of the Raising Places project.

  • Our Process

    4 / 10

    We selected a diverse cohort of urban, rural, and tribal communities — across all four U.S. time zones — so that multiple people could see themselves in the work. The final six teams shared a few common traits — diverse backgrounds, personal and professional connections to the community, access to decision-making power, and the trust of residents.

    We selected a diverse cohort of urban, rural, and tribal communities — across all four U.S. time zones — so that multiple people could see themselves in the work. The final six teams shared a few common traits — diverse backgrounds, personal and professional connections to the community, access to decision-making power, and the trust of residents.

  • Our Process

    5 / 10

    After receiving 156 applications from across the country, we facilitated a thorough, multi-round review process with over 60 remote reviewers. We visited the top applicant communities to meet with potential conveners and design teams, and take them through a design exercise, giving them a chance to experience what the full process would be like.

    After receiving 156 applications from across the country, we facilitated a thorough, multi-round review process with over 60 remote reviewers. We visited the top applicant communities to meet with potential conveners and design teams, and take them through a design exercise, giving them a chance to experience what the full process would be like.

  • Our Process

    6 / 10

    Our facilitation balanced structured leadership with community ownership. With the understanding that people embrace the change they make together, each of the three labs—kickoff lab, ideas lab, and action lab—was designed to move teams through the human-centered design process at their own pace, while fostering a sense of connectedness between participants.

    Our facilitation balanced structured leadership with community ownership. With the understanding that people embrace the change they make together, each of the three labs—kickoff lab, ideas lab, and action lab—was designed to move teams through the human-centered design process at their own pace, while fostering a sense of connectedness between participants.

  • Our Process

    7 / 10

    Each of our two-day labs included a public community event, where attendees shared stories and provided feedback on ideas through discussion, facilitated writing and drawing activities, and voting. Each of the six communities used these approaches to generate hundreds of ideas.

    Each of our two-day labs included a public community event, where attendees shared stories and provided feedback on ideas through discussion, facilitated writing and drawing activities, and voting. Each of the six communities used these approaches to generate hundreds of ideas.

  • Our Process

    8 / 10

    Interspersed between the community labs were two sprints — a research sprint and prototyping sprint where design team members got to experience human-centered design firsthand by engaging with their own communities. During the research sprint, design teams conducted direct interviews and observational activities like grocery shopping with families and home tours. During the prototyping sprint, design teams asked end users — those most impacted by our final designs — to test out and provide direct feedback on the concepts, effectively amplifying their voices and elevating their feedback.

    Interspersed between the community labs were two sprints — a research sprint and prototyping sprint where design team members got to experience human-centered design firsthand by engaging with their own communities. During the research sprint, design teams conducted direct interviews and observational activities like grocery shopping with families and home tours. During the prototyping sprint, design teams asked end users — those most impacted by our final designs — to test out and provide direct feedback on the concepts, effectively amplifying their voices and elevating their feedback.

  • Our Process

    9 / 10

    In May 2018, we hosted the Raising Places National Convening, an intimate and intentional gathering of leaders from the six communities, our advisors, a group of local highschool youth, and other national leaders working nationally and intersectionally on “kids and place.” The convening included panel discussions, small group activities, brainstorming sessions, and social shares that explored and developed the connections between children, place, and health.

    In May 2018, we hosted the Raising Places National Convening, an intimate and intentional gathering of leaders from the six communities, our advisors, a group of local highschool youth, and other national leaders working nationally and intersectionally on “kids and place.” The convening included panel discussions, small group activities, brainstorming sessions, and social shares that explored and developed the connections between children, place, and health.

  • Our Process

    10 / 10

    We designed and distributed the Raising Places final report, which includes examples of the inspirational work from our cohort members, as well as broader lessons learned throughout the process. We hope this report and the work of Raising Places continues to inspire healthy, child-centered communities across the U.S.

    We designed and distributed the Raising Places final report, which includes examples of the inspirational work from our cohort members, as well as broader lessons learned throughout the process. We hope this report and the work of Raising Places continues to inspire healthy, child-centered communities across the U.S.

Project Outputs

Programs

Each community piloted a range of concepts for programs and projects that would make their community more child-centered. One year later, many of these projects were still going — on average, 5 projects per community! 

The pilot programs include a Hunger Coalition and Mobile Food Service in North Wilkesboro, NC; a Police Committee Accountability Team and Youth-Friendly Transit Schedule in Hudson, NY; a Positive Messaging Campaign and Local Arts Co-Op in Lodge Grass, MT; and a North Side Shuttle and “Sunlighting” Our Schools initiative Minneapolis, MN, among others.

Design team member Julia Turpin hands the first check to a local landlord in North Wilkesboro, NC, during the pilot of their new rental unit Home Revitalization Program.

Design team member Makeda Zulu-Gillespie (second from left) with partners during pilot testing of the Northside Shuttle.

Design team members in Montana piloting their Lodge Grass Renewal Initiative by clearing lots to make way for new homes.

 

Strategies

We believe that local work can have national implications, but it is imperative to capture and share learnings from that work with different audiences. To connect the local Raising Places work to the national conversation, we planned and executed a comprehensive communications strategy that included releasing regular updates via the Raising Places website, newsletter and social channels, hosting the Raising Places National Convening, and placing articles in global publications like Fast Company, Curbed, CityLab and U.S. News and World Report, as well as local outlets in our communities such as HudsonValley360 and the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The Key Messages document was a cornerstone of the project’s communications strategy. Every conversation with media and stakeholders aimed to touch on one or more of these points.

The Raising Places article in US News and World Report was a highlight of our media campaign.

 

Tools

We created a new suite of tools for this project that have now been used across the six Raising Places community teams and beyond. Formalizing these tools — such as Root Cause mapping, which help teams uncover the reasons behind the challenges they experience, and Positive Goals, which frame the change we want to see — helped codify the community-based aspect of our curriculum.

Design team member Martine Smaller drafts positive goals during our Kickoff Lab in Minneapolis.

Design team member Jabin Ahmed maps root causes during our Kickoff Lab in Hudson, NY.

 

Learning Experiences

Every Raising Places convener learned how to more deeply incorporate cross-sector collaboration and community voice into their work, and every Raising Places design team member learned the human-centered design process by experiencing it firsthand. Design team members represented their projects publicly, such as at events and in meetings with people, to both raise awareness and garner feedback. This process allowed them to visualize themselves as local leaders and develop the capacity for creative facilitation and prototype testing.

 

Attendees respond to questions posted by the design team at the Minneapolis Action Lab.

Design team member Raquel Redondiez shares research learnings with a community member at the Ideas Lab in the SoMa neighborhood of San Francisco.

The community stands to gain tremendously if these concepts are implemented, and I know the process helped open their eyes to what can be achieved with hard work and resources.”

Design team member

Client & Community Outcomes

Mindsets

This project underscored the power of human-centered design to change mindsets related to innovation and problem-solving. After the nine-month design process, 60% of design team members said they were more comfortable trying something new, 56% said they were more comfortable working with other people to create things, and 68% said they were more comfortable engaging end users (including youth) in decision-making.

The project also opened many stakeholders’ minds to the vital, yet often overlooked, strategic benefit of focusing on youth. “There is convening power in a child-centered framing. On the surface, it sounds really sweet, but it also allows us to step into the most challenging and complex issues that our communities face,” said Sara Kendall of Kite’s Nest, the Raising Places convener in Hudson, NY.

Behaviors

The Raising Places communities learned how to apply the human-centered design process to new contexts. Multiple design team members told us they incorporated the process into program and service areas that fell outside of this project’s scope. They identified practical tools or ways to promote collaboration and community involvement in moments like data collection and program design. Said one design team member, “We’ve always believed in cross-sector collaborations, but having a formalized structure to engage across sectors for these particular discussions was a valuable framework.”

Conditions

Through the Raising Places process, we created the conditions for creative solutions to flourish, multiple cross-sector stakeholders to be engaged and participate, people to rise to leadership positions and also elevate those around them, and local funders to believe in the innovative, community-altering work being done. All the pieces were already there; they simply needed space to come together.

Culture

Raising Places had a ripple effect on the communities engaged; the results have gone well beyond the original scope of the project. The process and the programs are only a piece of the outcome; the mentality that when a community comes together, considers its own strengths and needs, and collaborates to fill those needs—that’s where true culture change takes place.